The US market had been closed to any EU beef since January 1998, when it introduced import restrictions on beef, sheep and goats and their products due to BSE concerns.
Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine in Ireland, said the move is the culmination of two years of intensive work between the department and US counterparts.
“This US market is a huge prize given the size of the market and the demand we know exists there for premium grass-fed beef," he said.
“We now have first-mover advantage as a result of being the first EU member state to gain entry.
“There is also the large Irish-American community which will be a key target of our promotional efforts for Irish beef now.”
The news follows an inspection by US authorities of Ireland’s beef production systems in July 2014.
Beef from the EU has been banned by the US since it imposed its ban for BSE reasons over fifteen years ago, which was only formally lifted in March 2014.
The decision clears the way for the Irish authorities to approve individual beef plants in the country to export to the US, based on agreed criteria with their US counterparts.
EU: A welcome first step
In a joint statement, Vytenis Andriukaitis, EU Health Commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, Trade Commissioner and Phil Hogan, Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner welcomed the move.
“We welcome the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) announcement that the US will progressively re-open its market to exports of beef from the European Union, starting with the Republic of Ireland,” they said.
“This re-opening of the market is a welcome first step to abolish the disproportionate and unjustified US ban that followed the BSE crisis of the 1990's, and to re-establish normal trading conditions.”
The trio said it sends an ‘important and positive signal’ to the other EU Member States who have requested the US to re-establish access to the US beef market.
“It is now desirable that the US acts expeditiously to extend the approval to the rest of the European Union and to fully bring their import conditions in line with international standards,” they said.
“We also welcome that this move, which forms part of a growing trend, recognises the robust, comprehensive and successful measures put in place by the EU to eradicate BSE.
“We call on our few remaining international trading partners who still maintain restrictive measures, to fully adopt recognised international standards."
The EU said it expects that remaining restrictions on other EU Member States and on EU sheep and goat meat will be lifted soon.